Don’t Offend the Court with What You Wear

Murder Defendant Wears “Crime Pays” Tee Shirt to Hearing

A 22-year-old Philadelphia man charged with murder showed up for his preliminary hearing in September sporting a tee shirt with the words “Crime Pays” in bold letters across the front. Jeremiah Jakson appeared in court charged with the death of an art student who lived in the same boarding house. Police contend that he killed the woman during a robbery that netted him her laptop, camcorder and ATM card. He also stole her vehicle, but sustained burns to his upper body when trying to set it afire.

Jakson sartorial selection did not find favor with the court, however. Municipal Court judge Teresa Carr Deni, who was presiding over the hearing, immediately commented to Jakson that he had made “a very interesting choice of shirt.” She asked him how he came to be wearing the shirt, and he claimed that he had arrived at the jail with only the clothes on his back, and that he had been given the shirt by someone at the jail. When asked by the judge if it had occurred to him that the shirt might be offensive, and that it might be in his best interests to turn it inside out, he responded that he had not considered those possibilities. Deni then instructed Jakson’s attorney to go to the jail and confirm Jakson’s story, calling his choice of clothing “unacceptable.”

Jakson’s choice of clothing is not the only example of a criminal defendant choosing to send the wrong message to the court. In a high-profile case in New Jersey, defendant Kisha Curtis, charged with animal cruelty, wore a tee-shirt at her first appearance that said “Keepin’ it real like a Happy Meal.”

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